I’ve volunteered with kids for as long as I can remember, usually as a mentor or a tutor, and twice a week for the past three years, I’ve tutored children at READ718, a literacy nonprofit in Brooklyn. (Right now I work with a bright, dedicated girl named Khylie.)
But when I read Shawn and Lawren Askinosie’s book Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul in 2017, I was inspired to bring chocolate into the picture. On February 19, READ718 and I hosted our second chocolate tasting for kids together, and it was a smashing success!
With a group of seven children aged 5-13, we focused on using the senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch) to evaluate roasted cocoa beans from Fruition and three different types of chocolate: Ritual’s 70 percent Madagascar, Divine’s milk chocolate, and Askinosie’s white chocolate. (Pretty fancy stuff across the board!)
We played chocolate bingo for a break, and then the kids got to write their own food reviews of the chocolate they loved or hated the most. Everyone chose to write about their favorite bars (those optimists!), and today I’m publishing the finished reviews on my site, so that all of the kids are now published authors. ;)
About half of the kids liked the cocoa beans, and they described them as “chocolate peanut,” “coffee,” “tastes like something left in the fridge for a long time.” Another person said he liked the beans because “it didn’t make my lips pucker.” Watching these children think about and evaluate food in a different way than usual, especially with such a common ingredient as chocolate, was so rewarding and thought-provoking, and I hope they took something away from it too.
But I’ll let them tell you in their own words! Here are photos of a few of their reviews and typed versions of all of them (below).
“I like the dark chocolate because I like the texture of it and the taste of it because it tastes edible.”
—Ishmayel Antoine, age 7
Justin Adams, 6th grade
“I love the milk chocolate because it had a creamy, sweet, smooth taste of the milk chocolate. It tastes different from other milk chocolate, I will give it 10 stars for the milk chocolate.”
Ziting Zeng, age 8
“I like the milk chocolate because the chocolate is very, very, very good. I would recommend people eating milk chocolate because it is good. I will grade this chocolate a ten star.”
Ariane Alcide, age 6
“My favorite was the white chocolate because it was sweet and tasty. I wish I can eat it everyday.” (Ariane drew 12 stars)
“My favorite chocolate was the milk chocolate. I loved it because I liked the smooth texture that felt good when it melted. Another thing I liked about the milk chocolate was the taste because it tasted very sweet. One more reason I loved it is the smell the chocolate smelled like caramel and I enjoy caramel. I would recommend this to someone else because I like most of its quality. I would rate this a 9 out of 10.”
—Zion Dockery, age 12 (left)
“My favorite chocolate was the white chocolate. I loved it! I loved it because I liked the flavor. I also liked the texture, which was smooth. I also liked the way that it smelled!”
—Gezale Dockery, age 5 (center)
“There were 3 chocolates. #1 is dark, #2 is milk, and #3 is white, I loved the milk chocolate because one I always eat it so I’m used to it. It reminds me of chocolate milk, the texture and flavor of it is nice and also it feels really good. If I had to rate it I would give a 9/10 because it is not something that I would eat everyday it is like for an occasion.”
—Maeyel Dockery, age 13 (right)
Thanks so much to READ718’s Emily Kirven and Rachel Fucci, and READ718 volunteer Ken Clinton!
If you’re in the NYC area and would like me to do a chocolate tasting with your group, email me at email@example.com!
(Note: There are affiliate links in this post.)